Backcasts archive: Through Jan. 25, 2008


Blog calendar: Jan. 24 | Jan. 23 | Jan. 22

posted Jan. 24, 2008

Tasteless horse-for-sale ad: Newspapers hoof it over to corrections editors

Imagine taking out a newspaper ad to sell your very live horse to a caring individual, then receiving calls from folks wishing to purchase horse meat.

It's a pretty unsettling scenario, but one all too real for Kristen DeGroat, whose listing to sell Foxy, her 3-year-old mare, to another animal lover inadvertently was published under the heading "Good Things to Eat" in the classified sections of two papers, the Associated Press reports from Akron, Mich.

About a third of the 60 or so calls she received were from people wishing to buy horse meat.

"It's been enough to turn your stomach," said DeGroat, who eventually sold Foxy to a man who wanted a horse – alive and kicking – for his grandchildren.

And it reminds us of the newlyweds who opened the newspaper only to discover their "just married" announcement listed as an annulment.

What a bummer.

In this case, DeGroat's ad offering the registered pinto for $200 or the best offer was intended to run Sunday and Monday under the classified ad heading for horses and stables in The Saginaw News and The Bay City Times.

However, human error landed the advertisement under the food heading in the classified sections of both newspapers. The papers, which have a jointly run classified ad department, corrected the mistake.

"I was pretty outraged," DeGroat told The Saginaw News. "I've owned horses since I was a child. The worst part of all of it, if it had been any other section it would have just been a mistake."

DeGroat, 25, who lives about 85 miles northwest of Detroit, said she had received dozens of calls from unhappy animal lovers.

"I had a lady call whose friend was just in tears over this thing," DeGroat told the Saginaw paper.


posted Jan. 23, 2008

Can anything be worse than being attacked by a crocodile? Well, actually, yes

What's worse that being attacked by a crocodile?

Being attacked by a crocodile, then being shot by your buddy.

Ouch, that's gotta hurt, in so many ways.

But Jason Green survived both incidents yesterday in northern Australia, the Associated Press reports from the island continent.

"He's going to be very sick and sorry and have a very good story to tell," Police Commander Bob Harrison told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

We'd say so. And Green's colleague must be feeling pretty bad, too.

However, everyone can feel better knowing Green's coworker actually rescued him from the clutches of the croc (before unwittingly shooting Green in the arm).

The two farmhands were collecting wild crocodile eggs on a riverbank in Australia's Northern Territory when a crocodile snatched Green by the arm, the Northern Territory Police said in a statement.

"The male colleague shot at the crocodile, causing it to let go of the victim's arm," the statement said, "but a further shot hit the victim in the upper right arm."

(Hey, it's gotta be a sight better than being shot down under, are we right?)

The two men had been collecting eggs to boost the crocodile population at their farm in the northern city of Darwin. Their employer sent a helicopter that flew Green to a Darwin hospital for surgery, according to the AP.

Green's injuries were not life-threatening, Harrison said.

Oh, about the croc, no word, yet, on the condition of the offending reptile.


posted Jan. 22, 2008

$590,000 to study belching cows? What gives? Methane, apparently

A half-million dollars is a pretty penny, especially to university researchers in Sweden who won a government grant to, get this, study the belching tendencies of cows.

Hey, we all know and love our bovine friends. They are there to greet us on the way to and from our hunting grounds and fishing holes. Got milk? And they are, of course, delicious.

But a study on burping, to the tune of $590,000? Someone's pulling the leather, er, wool over our eyes, right?

Actually, when cows digest their food they release methane, a greenhouse gas believed to contribute to global warming, the Associated Press reports from Stockholm.

Researchers at the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala believe the level of methane released depends on the type of food cows eat.

Project leader Jan Bertilsson said 95 percent of the methane released by cows comes out through the mouth. (We here at Backcasts think that's very fortunate for the researchers who must measure the greenhouse gases released.)

About 20 cows will participate in the project; they will have different diets and wear a collar device measuring the methane level in the air around them, university officials said yesterday.

"This type of research is already being conducted in Canada so we will be in contact with Canadian agricultural researchers in the near future," he said.

Meanwhile, researchers in Japan may just be ahead in the international race to fight global warming caused by cows.

Apparently supplementing the diets of the mooers with something called cysteine (a type of amino acid) and nitrate reduces methane production, which in livestock is thought to account for about 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the Yomiuri Shimbun reports today from Tokyo.

According to the newspaper, the research team at Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in Hokkaido has acquired a patent for its technique in Japan, the United States, Australia and two other countries.

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    About the author: Brett Pauly spent nearly six years editing and publishing ESPNOutdoors.com before moving on to produce the ESPN.com Sports Travel site. He is a national award-winning writer and editor with 14 years of experience in the newspaper trade, including stints at the Los Angeles Daily News and Seattle Times. The Evergreen State is where he now makes his home. Click here to email him.

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